Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Persecution of Christians, the British Left and the "War on Muslims"

The plight of Christians being persecuted is something that should be of as much interest to 'progressives' whom journalist Owen Jones believes are wary of taking up their plight through 'fear' of being seen to be on the side of 'Muslim bashers' on the far right, something that would indicate that they are somewhat craven.

Jones, however, seems blithely unaware that the dominant propaganda thrust of the anti-war activists he associates with through the Stop the War Coalition is that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were, as George Galloway claims, part of a 'war on Muslims'. 

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were, of course, no more a 'war on Muslims' than the NATO attack on Serbia in 1999 was part of a war on Orthodox Christians. The Afghanistan and Iraq Wars were wars to gain geopolitical advantages mingled with fervent hopes of installing democracy.

So the reason why Christians are largely of no concern is that their persecution cannot be said to fit into the crude propaganda narrative that 'Western Imperialism' is pitted against all Muslims everywhere both at home and abroad, one that seeks to harness 'Muslim outrage' to boost anti-government sentiments.
'It is, unsurprisingly, the Middle East where the situation for Christians has dramatically deteriorated in recent years. One of the legacies of the invasion of Iraq has been the purging of a Christian community that has lived there for up to two millennia'.
True, but in Syria it is the legacy of Saudi Arabia and Qatar funding and backing Sunni jihadists as a way of overthrow Assad that has done much to assist groups dedicated to persecuting and murdering Christians to flourish and gain ground as part of a proxy war against Shi'ite Iran.

Anti-war activists have not had a 'consistent line' on the Middle East since sectarian wars have spread across the Middle East as the violence has shifted across the Syria-Iraq border and and put Iran and Presidents Maliki and Assad in direct confrontation with Sunni Islamist insurgents.

Consequently, the propaganda line, as put forth by Seumas Milne for example, has changed into the idea that the invasion and occupation of Iraq itself caused sectarian divisions because it was the intention of the US and Britain to set Sunni against Shia in order to maintain control, colonial 'divide and rule' as a plan.

In fact, the invasion removed a secular dictator and the occupation authorities did not put into effect any plan to use Shi'ite miltias against Sunni ones opposed to Baghdad until the civil war stage of the insurgency broke out after the 2005 elections.

The invasion of Iraq was a catastrophic decision without which the sectarian conflicts could not have broken out and Christians would not have been persecuted. But as Syria after 2011 shows, those sectarian tensions exist and could end in violence irrespective of Western intervention.

In Syria, it is true the US and Britain's alliance with Qatar and Saudi Arabia has meant aligning with regional powers intent on backing and bankrolling Sunni jihadists against Assad who is supported by the Allawi Shia and by many Christians only through fear they would be killed if Assad was removed.

But its a propaganda myth that the US somehow is the 'imperial master' in the Middle East along with Britain. In reality the US has tended to back off from involving itself in the Middle East after 2011 and tends to give tacit backing to Saudi Arabia because of its oil.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar follow their regional interests against Iran by whatever means they think 'effective'. Britain and France have been far more aggressive in wanting the US to involve itself in removing Assad because of their dependence upon Qatar and its liquefied natural gas.

In Britain anti-war activists would be better off understanding that the killing and mayhem in Iraq and Syria, and the threat of ISIS, is partly the cost of Britain being overdependent upon Qatar for energy and the use of its petrodollars to invest in propping up its ailing rentier economy.

Unless Britain finds alternatives to fossil fuels, then there is going to be no end to the prospect of it being dragged into conflicts or effectively backing unsavoury jihadists because ultimately the stability of its high octane consumer economy depends heavily on access to oil and gas.

This is something the left often shirks confronting. Wars for oil or about oil are considered to be about corporate profits and the political elites benefitting. While that's true, the unpleasant fact remains that the living standards of the majority of citizens are heavily tied to cheap oil and gas.

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